Game Review – Parfum by Queen Games

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With both my husband and myself searching for new games there’s going to be times when one of us will look askew at the other – AKA, “What the heck?”…

Parfum was one of those games. When the hubby announced he’d played it and bought it at Origins I was a bit leery about the game – it sounded pretty boring from his initial description and, frankly, I wasn’t sold despite his enthusiasm.

One game was all it took to sell me – and hopefully, you too!

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Let’s start at the beginning – you’re a perfume vendor looking to create and sell your special creations to the lovely ladies (and men!) searching for sweet-smelling aromas. But it’s not as simple as just pouring chemicals into a bottle and hoping for the best – there’s more than a little luck in this game!

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First you place random tiles on the playing board to represent the mixtures – the different colors stand for the different aromas – red for roses, green for lime, black for vanilla and so on. You need to use the dice to fulfill the requirements of each tile before you can pick up the tile. The tile also represents the top, middle, or bottom of a full bottle of perfume you need to construct in order to have product to sell. You can build a bottle with just a top and bottom if you want, but that’ll only give you two bottles instead of three to sell.

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So how many dice do you get to throw to meet the different tile requirements? Ah, here’s where the strategy comes in!

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You bid on which order you’d like to play in, much like in Five Tribes. What this means is that for a two player game, for example, you can play first and last, second and third, first and… well, you get the idea. Now you could be asking yourself – why wouldn’t I want to be first?

The number of actions you receive grow the further down the line you go – the first player only gets three actions, the second player four actions, the third five actions and the fourth place tag gives you six actions. Now, what does an action give you and why wouldn’t you want to be first?

An action gives you the chance to throw ONE dice or replenish ONE tile on the factory floor. Most tiles require you to throw at least two dice and you need to roll little flasks to fulfill the requirements of the tile you’re aiming for. For example, if you need two purple dice and one black to fulfill a tile and win four points you’ll need to expend at least three actions to pick up the three dice – and it’s not guaranteed you’ll win! But if you add more actions to your attempt you can add more dice and push the odds in your favor. You can also use water drops (you get some at the start of your game and can earn more later on) that can help change the results of the dice. But, in a nutshell, the more actions you have the better to win multiple tiles and build your perfume bottles! Thus going later on the game might be better for your strategy – but that’ll leave less tiles for you to win and less points! As you can see there’s more to this game than just rolling a few dice…

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After you win a tile and place the tile in your rack to build bottles you can attempt at the end of the round to sell your product to the waiting customers. This also goes by the sequence of turns determined at the start of the round. But you need to have a finished bottle to sell it to the customers AND meet their requirements. Each customer has certain needs and if your perfume doesn’t have the minimum scents it won’t sell.

You receive points for earning the tiles to create your bottles and for selling them to the customers – and your water drops have a point value that can also be used at the end of the game to boost your final numbers.

After the first round I saw what my hubby liked about the game – there’s a randomness to it that you can only negate so much by stacking up your actions. You need to be able to roll more dice to fulfill more tiles but then you’ve got less actions to do other things and going first might not be the best move – or last, depending on where you are in your perfume-building empire. You need to win tiles and fill bottles to sell them and at times going first to snatch that tile you need to finish off a bottle is worth only getting three actions – but then you better be good at the dice!

We enjoyed this greatly and will be playing it a lot in the future – there’s an expansion that adds “joker” dice and we’re looking forward to seeing how that works out.

Overall Parfum is a lovely game with a different concept, one that might be a bit confusing at the beginning but it all comes together in a great fun game that I recommend if you’re looking for something a wee bit out of the ordinary – I never thought I’d be so excited about selling perfume!

Unfortunately there’s not much information on the Queen Games website so you’d be best off going to the Kickstarter website for an overview. Hopefully they’ll update the website soon!

If you’re looking for a nice family game with plenty of dice rolling and a bit of strategy I recommend Parfum – it’s not going to gather dust while on our shelf!

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